By sharing personal stories like these we want to raise awareness of the struggle that family carers are facing because of the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic. With their care support reduced and many forced to isolate for months at a time, carers across the country are at breaking point and in desperate need of a respite break. Sadly, Government restrictions passed as part of the emergency Coronavirus Act mean that these essential breaks are simply not feasible for many.
Kevin & Annette
Let’s rewind to Fleet in the 1980’s – Annette and Kevin met whilst they were both working in a shop. They settled down, got a flat together, and 34 years ago, they got married, and subsequently had two children – Kieran and Kimberley.
One of the things which Annette and Kevin used to enjoy doing together was shopping. Annette would drag Kevin into every shop and after they’d been everywhere, she would end up going back to the first one – Annette loved it.
Unfortunately, around 10 years ago, Annette started getting a tingling in her legs and balance problems, and was then fairly rapidly diagnosed with MS. To make matters worse, three years ago Kevin had to medically retire from work with COPD – at around the same time that Annette needed full time care from him.
Kevin now cares for Annette twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. As well as making sure he’s there for everything Annette needs he also takes care of all the household chores and cooking, leaving little time for anything else. Where shopping was once a pleasure, it’s now a major effort for Annette.
COVID-19 negatively impacted their lives.
As a result of COVID-19, Annette no longer has her physio every Wednesday, and the social time they both had meeting people, fellow carers and also friends living with MS at the weekly Farnham MS Society has also stopped.
That was good – because often the only person Annette physically gets to speak to is [them] and it’s a real chance for her to talk to her friends and a chance for me to talk to other carers.
Taking a break would mean everything to Kevin and Annette.
I would love to be able to take a break – I’d have to make sure that Annette is alright – I’m stressed out to the worlds end – the whole virus is a nightmare, I’m so scared I’m going to bring it home. It gets so stressful and tiring looking after someone all the time – Annette is always saying sorry – she feels bad that I have to do it all.
Kevin thinks the Government’s 14-day isolation guidelines are dangerous, impractical and will put more pressure on carers – not less.
It’d be dangerous for someone like Annette to be left on her own in isolation – it’s like they’re getting punished Someone like Annette could easily fall and I’d be on all tenterhooks – it’s ridiculous – it’s not practical. I’d not be to cope…it would make me ill to be honest.
I don’t think they [the Government] understand the pressure it puts on people – it’d be more stressful.
Kevin believes the Government needs to do more as Carers are at breaking point, with little or no regard being given to how they’re feeling or coping now, or what a solution may be in the future.
People can’t carry on like this for much longer – the Government guidelines need to change. It is unfair…there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
I think Christmas will be stressful – I’m not looking forward to it – no shops, no family coming round – it’s a write-off. They’re [the Government] are not taking into real consideration into how people with disabilities are coping.
Kevin spoke about what a respite break at a Revitalise centre would mean to both Annette and himself right now.
She loves it there – they’re absolutely brilliant up there. It would mean a lot – it would a mean a lot to me…if she could go the way things were – it would be an absolute godsend at the moment – never more needed.
If you want to help people like Kevin & Annette get the respite break they so desperately need, help us raise awareness by sharing our #CareForCarers campaign with your friends, family and social media network.
You can also donate, to help us towards our goal of raising £1 million to support as many carers and their loved ones as possible in accessing respite. Donate today here.